- The Inside Line
The best show in townKate Walker June 5, 2014
A popular topic of conversation in bars and restaurants on the F1 circuit is favourite races. Everyone has one, and many - me included - have a list of four or five that are absolutely definitely the best on the calendar.
Montreal always features highly. It may not have the cheap hotels and steamy weather of Southeast Asia, but in pretty much every other respect Montreal has got it made. What Montreal has managed to achieve that no other race has is the winning combination of a stellar circuit that delivers good racing, a passionate and knowledgeable fan base, and a city that is both within easy reach of the track and a great place to party.
Spa has the circuit and the fans, but nights out are rather sparse. Singapore is one of the most fun events on the calendar, but street circuits and overtaking don't really go hand in hand now that Robert Kubica's no longer driving single-seaters. Montreal, on the other hand, ticks every box.
When the F1 circus packs up on Sunday night, we could find ourselves in the position of leaving Canada with no guaranteed return in sight. Montreal's race contract expires this year, and despite the best efforts of all involved, there is no new contract in place. Yet.
The problem isn't Formula One, and the problem isn't the local government hating on the sport as is the case elsewhere. Instead, thanks to a series of governmental changes in Montreal over the past two years, Bernie Ecclestone has negotiated approximately eleventy billion new contracts with different governments, but then changes of power have put everyone back to square one.
Montreal loves F1, and F1 loves it back. There is real desire on both sides to ensure that the Canadian Grand Prix continues unabated, but in order for that to happen the new contract should ideally be negotiated, signed, sealed, and delivered before we leave on Sunday night.
From the Canadian end, all of the necessary officials will be at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve over the weekend, so discussions can be held, 'i's dotted, and 't's crossed. The question on everyone's lips right now is whether or not Bernie will be here. The Montreal race is not one the F1 supremo tends to skip, but he's also never around quite this early in the weekend.
For the moment, the Canadian media are waiting to see whether or not Ecclestone turns up this weekend, while the members of the travelling press corps are taking advantage of the present uncertainty to treat every night in this fabulous city as if it was our last, partying as hard as Montreal can take. And this city can take a lot…